Tomorrowís Promise

Part 6

by Radclyffe

Please see part 1 for all disclaimers.


 

Chapter Twelve

Tanner awoke in the late afternoon and lay with her eyes closed, getting used to the idea of Adrienne beside her. Adrienneís chest rose gently under her hand with each breath. It was warm in the room, and Tanner felt lazy from the heat and the aftermath of love. She opened her eyes but didnít move. She wanted to savor the feeling of being there with Adrienne a while longer, before conversation and activity broke the spell.

Adrienne was turned slightly away from her, curled on her side. Her hair, partially covering her face, fluttered gently in the breeze from the open door. Tanner noticed the tiny freckles on her shoulders from the sun and the downy hair on the sides of her cheek. A feeling of tenderness, so intense it surprised her, welled within her. She wanted to protect Adrienne, to keep her from harm, as if such a thing were truly possible. She wished that the force and depth of her feelings would be enough to shield her from injury. She sighed, knowing it was foolish, but part of her still clung to the desire nevertheless.

From this position Tanner couldnít see the scar on Adrienneís chest, but she remembered every detail of it. She had never truly understood before what that kind of surgery meant. She had heard about it and read about it, of course, and it had become such a common topic that it seemed familiaróuntil today. It wasnít horrifying, or really even ugly. The strangest thing was the absence of the shape she was used to. Womenís breasts had always been a source of mystical beauty to her, long before she had begun to love women sexually. She remembered when she was young, watching her mother naked. Her mother's breasts had fascinated her. They were so soothing to look at, flowing and bouncing as she walked. She could recall looking down at her own flat chest and trying to imagine what it would be like to have such wonderful things on her own body. Now she tried to imagine what it would be like not to have them. She rarely thought of her breasts as separate parts of herself. They were just there, like her arms and her legs. Would losing one be like losing an arm? Would she feel unbalanced, out of touch with her physical self? She tried to imagine how she would feel letting someone else see her like that. Despite her strong ego, she knew that she was always a little insecure that a lover would find her less than perfect. How would she cope with knowing that she truly was less than physically whole? Tanner wasnít at all sure she would have the courage to find out.

She looked at Adrienne, sleeping peacefully beside her. How brave she was! Tanner was proud that Adrienne had trusted her enough to take that chance. She cuddled closer, stirred by a new respect for the woman who had gone through so much and was still willing to risk more.

Adrienne stirred and sighed softly, turning toward Tanner in half-sleep. Her hand trailed softly over Tannerís hip and up to her shoulder. Adrienne nestled her face against Tannerís breast and gently kissed her there. Tanner extracted her arm from between them and settled Adrienneís head in the crook of her arm.

"Hello," she said softly.

"Mmmóhi," Adrienne replied, burrowing her nose against Tannerís nipple. Tanner giggled and kissed the top of Adrienneís head.

"Are you waking up?" Tanner asked.

"No."

Tanner smoothed the hair back from Adrienne's temple, kissing her lightly. God, she felt good! "You know, I donít think Iíve eaten for at least a month. I may perish right here in a few minutes."

"That would be criminal," Adrienne responded, kissing her again.

"Can I take you out to dinner, then?" Tanner continued.

"How about room service?" Adrienne joked. She really didn't want to face the world. Or to allow reality to dispel this brief moment of peace. She looked at Tanner, who smiled back, her face still dreamy with satisfaction. "I suppose we must get up," she sighed.

"Just for a little while," Tanner said, kissing her lightly. "I have to refuel."

"I have to shower," Adrienne said, coming fully awake at last. "Iím downright indecent."

"I like you indecent."

"Really?"

"Most definitely."

Adrienne sat up abruptly, turning her back to Tanner. She reached for a robe on a nearby chair. "Iíll go shower then."

"Iíll come with you," Tanner said quickly.

"No." Adrienne said sharply. Tanner stared at her for a second and then sat up, wrapping her arms around Adrienneís waist from behind.

"I want to."

Adrienne leaned the back of her head against Tannerís shoulder and sighed. "You donít give up do you?"

"Nope."

"Has it occurred to you that having you see me naked might make me uncomfortable?"

Tanner tightened her hold, rubbing her cheek softly against Adrienne's hair. "Does it?" she asked quietly.

Adrienne suddenly saw them together, Tanner's hands and lips on her, her face tender and gentle. "No."

She reached for Tannerís hand and pulled her along toward the bath≠room.

~

The water was cool and they both gasped as it struck them. Adrienne began to shampoo Tannerís hair, massaging her head and taking advantage of the opportunity to look at Tanner unobserved. Whereas previously she had only stolen glimpses of her, now she took the time to feast. Her gaze wandered over Tanner's sleek torso to her strong legs, lingering for a long moment on the dark wavy hair at the base of her smooth belly. Adrienne acknowledged the quick flush of desire, shaking her head in self-reproach.

She was acting like she was seventeen again! She had to remind herself that this could develop into a difficult situation if she didnít keep a firm control over things. She had to make Tanner understand that anything serious between them was out of the question. How could she possibly become involved? She hadnít anything to offer anyone - especially someone as young and vital as Tanner. She was startled by the touch of Tannerís hands on her waist.

"That feels so good," Tanner murmured with a sigh, lulled by the steady gentle pressure of Adrienneís strong fingers in her hair. She allowed herself to be guided by Adrienneís touch as she felt her body being turned in the stream of the water. She knew that Adrienne was studying her, and she was secretly pleased. She was wholly satisfied but arousal was just a breath away. She wanted Adrienne to desire her. She felt ripe and lush with the slow burning aftermath of their lovemaking and sought silently to pull Adrienne into that fire with her.

Adrienne sensed Tannerís body grow soft and somehow fuller under her hands as she turned her slowly in the warm spray of the shower. She watched the rivulets of water run in curving trails over Tannerís face and down onto her body. She pushed the wet strands of dark hair back from the strong planes of Tannerís face, brushing her thumbs over Tanner's cheeks and down to the edge of her jaw. Tanner turned her head and captured Adrienne's thumb in her mouth, sucking gently.

"You're bad," Adrienne whispered, knowing she had to have her again. One more time.

She backed Tanner against the shower wall, lowering her head to capture a nipple in her mouth, her thumb still between Tanner's lips, her fingers splayed along Tanner's jaw, holding her head against the glass. Tanner moaned softly.

She alternately sucked and licked the tiny erect bud between her lips until Tanner's hips were twisting against her. She was lost in the exquisite sensation, pressing her face against Tannerís breasts, her other hand in that tiny hollow just above Tannerís buttocks.

Tanner gasped, almost a sob, her neck arched under Adrienne's hand. "You're driving me crazy. Nobody ever did this to me before."

Adrienne smiled to herself, bringing her hand to the smooth flat plane of Tannerís abdomen, brushing her fingers through the wet curls below. "Oh yeah? Used to being in charge, are we?"

Tanner merely groaned, arching her hips, silently pleading.

"Patience, lover," Adrienne teased. When she stroked lower between the swollen lips, she found wetness that was not from the water streaming over them. She lingered, fingering her softly, enjoying her ability to arouse this passionate young woman.

Finally, Tanner begged, her legs quivering with need. "I can't stand it Ė please."

She slipped inside those warm folds, sliding deeply in and slowly out, her thumb pressing the length of Tanner's clitoris with each stroke. Tanner stiffened, her breath coming in short hoarse gasps. Adrienne stifled a moan as Tannerís body contracted around her fingers. Somewhere a pulse beat rapidly against her hand. She tightened her hold as Tanner began to tremble in her arms. She tried to focus, tried to match her movements with Tanner's inner rhythm, but she was so excited now herself it was impossible to concentrate. Faster, harder now Ė some instinctive sense guiding her, she pressed inward, deeper. And then there was only Tanner, crying her name, clinging to her, coming.

"Don't come out," Tanner managed to gasp when she could breathe again.

They swayed, locked together for a long time, until finally, Tanner took a deep breath and grinned shyly. "Adrienne! If I donít drown first, Iím going to fall down!"

Adrienne laughed. "I doubt it! You survived more water than this in that gale storm, remember?"

"That wasnít quite the same thing," Tanner murmured, circling Adrienne in her arms, holding her close. "I wasnít nearly so aroused then!" A flicker of almost pain flashed across her face as Adrienne slipped from inside her, feeling the loss already.

"We're going to lose the hot water," Adrienne warned regretfully.

Tanner sighed and stepped back. "Well, let me have the soap, then."

Adrienne looked at her, puzzled, but did as she asked. With the soap in one hand, Tanner reached around Adrienneís body with the other and held her still. She worked the lather into swirls over Adrienneís chest and belly. Lowering her eyes, she continued the soft circular motions as she traced the contours of the firm muscles under her hands. She cupped Adrienneís breast in her hands and ran her fingers gently over the nipple. She followed the curve to the center of Adrienneís chest and placed her hand gently on the flat surface where Adrienne's other breast had been. Tenderly she continued to work the soap up and down, moving along the pink scar with care. She sensed Adrienne stiffen slightly, and Tanner tilted her head back to look at her. Adrienne gazed down at her with a question in her eyes.

"What is it?" Tanner asked.

"You really donít mind about this?" Adrienne asked, glancing down at her body.

"Of course I mind!" Tanner replied instantly, her eyes blazing. "I mind very much that youíve been ill, and that you were physically hurt and emotionally violated! I mind that you had to live through it and that you still have to live with it now! I mind that I canít change it or help it!"

Adrienne stopped the rush of words with her fingers against Tannerís lips. She pulled her close, embracing her fiercely. "You have helped! Every time you look at me and still want to touch me, you help. Youíve helped me to feel whole again. I never thought I would want to touch anyone or be touched - ever again. Oh, Tanner! You help!"

Tanner's tears mixed with the water that streamed from her face. "I hate what happened to you," she whispered.

Adrienne kissed her, murmuring the comfort she herself had longed to hear not so long ago. "Itís all right. Really, itís all right."

~

They drove to a restaurant that was a local favorite at the south end of the island. The maitre dí greeted Tanner with polite familiarity and showed them to a secluded table that overlooked the harbor.

"Letís have champagne!" Tanner suggested impulsively.

"Are we celebrating something?" Adrienne asked indulgently, smiling at Tannerís enthusiasm.

"I am," Tanner replied, glancing at her watch. "Iím celebrating the best eighteen hours Iíve spent in years." She looked at Adrienne with a satisfied grin on her face and her meaning was clear.

Adrienne blushed and turned to look out the window. The last of the sailors and fishermen were bringing their crafts into the harbor under the setting sun. The scene was almost too idyllic for Adrienneís comfort. She realized how easily she could be drawn into the languorous life of the island, and of exactly how much she longed to do just that. These last few hours with Tanner seemed like magic moments, lived outside the reality of the life she knew. She needed so badly to escape from the torment and uncertainty that had plagued her since she left California. For a while, with Tanner, she had. She felt like her old self again, confident and wholly alive. She had forgotten for the first time in over a year that her life was no longer hers to do with as she wished. Where once she had seen the future so clearly, now she saw only a blank screen filled with questions. How simple it would be to wander into that unknown void wrapped in the comfort of Tannerís arms and the mystical timelessness of life on Whitley Point. She sighed, knowing she could not allow herself to follow this line of thinking much longer. That path inevitably led to disaster. She would not use Tanner in that way - taking from her with nothing to offer her in return. It was folly and she knew it.

She finally turned back to Tanner, whose eyes were intently searching her face. In a voice that came out sounding harsher than she meant, Adrienne said, "Donít lose your head over this, Tanner. Iíll be leaving here soon."

"Why?" Tanner questioned. Her voice was still with a calmness she did not feel. She had been expecting something like this. It was too much to expect that Adrienne would simply accept what had happened between them without resistance. For that matter, I haven't shown her much reason to trust me.

Adrienne looked at her, faint surprise registering in her cool blue eyes. "You said it yourself when we first met. Iím hiding - I have been hiding for the better part of a year. I canít stay here just because I feel safe by the sea and protected by the seclusion. In the end even the beauty of this island, and you, cannot alter my fate. I have to get on with my life - whatever there is left of it." She saw Tanner pale and added tenderly, "Iím sorry. I donít mean to sound morbid, but I have to be realistic."

"Whatís so realistic about leaving one place for another just because you happen to be happy here?" Tanner replied, failing to temper the anger in her voice. "Is it only realistic when you feel miser≠able? Is there some reason that you think you donít deserve to be happy?" She didnít even try to conceal the bitterness in her tone. Adrienne was threatening to take from her the only peace she had ever found in her life, and she would not let it go easily!

Adrienne stared at Tanner in frustration. "I canít talk to you rationally about this!" She gestured out the window to the placid scene below them. "You live in your own world, with its own special rules! My god, Tanner - do you even know what it means to go without anything?"

Tanner stared back at her, her face flushing. "Yes, I know! I know what it is to be without purpose, without dreams, without one honest feeling from one day to the next. I know what it means to wake up in the morning and wonder if thereís any point to it. And I know how to forget those feelings with alcohol and drugs. Do you think you have a monopoly on unhappiness?" She stopped suddenly, tears brimming in her eyes. "I may never have wanted for things, but since my father died, all I've felt is guilt and anger and helplessness."

Adrienne reached quickly across the table and grasped Tannerís hand. "Stop! Iím sorryóreally I am! I didnít mean to attack you. Itís not you Iím angry with. I want to enjoy tonight with you. You have made me feel wonderful, and Iím grateful."

Tanner shook her head, frowning, but she did not release her grip on Adrienneís hand. "God, Adrienne! I donít want you to be grateful! I just want you to accept it for what it is. You touch me somewhere no one has been able to reach for years. You take away the pain! And you make me want to give that back. I want to know you - I want to hold you, and laugh with you, and just Ė be with you. I think itís called love." She shrugged and fell silent. It was that simple to her. She knew what she felt and that was all that really mattered to her.

"I canít love you, Tanner," Adrienne said quietly. "I donít have anything left to love you with. Iím tired; I have no place to go and nothing to offer you. I donít even have a tomorrow to count on." She slumped slightly, suddenly very weary. Too much had happened, too many memories had been awakened. And she could still feel Tanner's hands on her. She looked at Tanner, her blue eyes desolate. "Please don't make me hurt you, Tanner. Please."

Tanner signaled the waiter who appeared instantly at their side.

"Yes, Ms. Whitley?"

"A bottle of your very best champagne, Richard. And then we'll order." As he nodded and moved away, Tanner turned back to Adrienne and said calmly, "You may choose not to love me, but you canít stop me from loving you."

Adrienne closed her eyes briefly, still holding Tanner's hand. She couldn't fight with her any longer, and she couldn't walk away, no matter how much she knew she should. Not tonight, not with Tanner looking at her with what could only be love in her eyes. Tomorrow Ė tomorrow she would sort this out.

Chapter Thirteen

Adrienne found that there was little comfort in doing the right thing. When Tanner brought her home from the restaurant, she said good night with a soft brush of her lips against Adrienneís cheek, murmuring, "Iíll call you."

"Don't," Adrienne had whispered softly.

And she had stood on the steps of this house and watched Tanner walk back to her car with her characteristic purposeful stride and wondered to herself why she was letting her go. All she really wanted to do was take her inside and undress her - slowly, and lie beside her in the silvery moonlight that streamed through her bedroom windows. She wanted to explore every curve and hollow of her body and kiss away the frown lines between her brows. She wanted to make her cry out again when her body could no longer contain her passion, and she wanted to hold her while she slept. But she knew she would do none of those things.

She would not be that selfish! Tanner was so young! She did not doubt the sincerity of Tannerís emotions, but she truly believed that what Tanner mistook for love was just her great loneliness and need. Adrienne knew that Tanner was easily impassioned, quick to respond and eager to fill the emptiness of her life with something meaningful. Tanner would move on from this brief experience as the young did so often, as she should, and discover someone who could match her own vitality and relentless spirit.

Adrienne knew that she had little of that joy left. She would only be taking more than she gave, and she would surely come to hate herself. It was madness to get involved! So she watched Tanner pull away in her sleek silver sports coupe and had taken comfort in the rightness of her decision. Adrienne had not heard from her since.

A week passed, and when she awakened each morning she longed for Tanner beside her. She ached to see the softness of her face as she slept and to watch her dark eyes blaze with passion when they touched. She wanted Tanner's warmth, and her intensity and her desire. She tried to force the many images of Tanner from her mind, but she failed. No matter how she tried to occupy her thoughts, she could not escape her memories. She cursed her own weakness even as she longed for Tannerís presence. She ran on the beach until she was exhausted, but still she found herself looking over the dunes for Tannerís familiar form. She com≠forted herself with the thought that all things must pass. She had certainly lived through worse things than this.

Despite her determination to forget the young woman who haunted her waking hours and restless nights, her heart leapt when she saw the Jag pull into the drive in front of her house early one morning. Adrienne hurried out onto the front porch as Tanner stepped from the car.

"Hi!" Tanner called, an easy grin on her face. She leaned against the fender, her denim-clad legs crossed, her white tee shirt tight across her chest. Her black hair tousled, her arms loosely crossed, she was as dashing and dangerous looking as a young James Dean. "Iím going sailing. Want to come?"

"Yes! Let me get some things together," Adrienne replied instantly, already turning to go back into the house. She hurried before she had time to change her mind. She was delighted to see Tanner and she didnít want to think or question. She rushed about gathering her gear, feeling better than she had in days.

Tanner waited, her heart pounding. She didn't want to make a mistake. Adrienne was everything she had ever wanted Ė tender, vulnerable, strong, stubborn. Tanner desired her with a passion and an intensity that she had not imagined possible. She had thought of nothing but Adrienne for days. She had meant to give her time, hoping that Adrienne would change her mind, hoping that she would call. But she did not.

Tanner lay down at night, knowing that she would sleep little, her body on fire. She ached for Adrienne's touch. The sun would rise to find her staring out the window, longing for Adrienne in her arms. She fretted about the house so much that Constance finally grew alarmed.

She found Tanner out on the verandah early one morning, slumped in a lounge chair, staring moodily out over the dunes. Constance sat beside her, sipping her coffee. Tanner turned, surprised to see her, and smiled wanly. "Hello, Mother."

"Good morning, darling." Never one to avoid an issue when she had made up her mind to confront it, Constance continued, "I canít help but notice that you havenít been acting like yourself for days. Is there something I can do? I hate to see you like this." She spoke softly and Tanner couldnít miss the affection in her tone.

Tanner sighed and laughed ruefully. "Does it show that badly?"

"Iím afraid it does, sweetheart."

"Would you think me very foolish if I told you that I was in love?" Tanner asked shyly.

Constance regarded her seriously for a moment. "Quite frankly, I would be delighted."

Constance did not add that she had begun to wonder if Tanner would ever allow anyone close to her again. It seemed as if she had taken her fatherís death as some kind of betrayal and had unconsciously avoided any intimate involvements since that time. She was quite sure she knew who had prompted this response in her compli≠cated daughter, but there were certain subjects Constance considered too personal to broach until Tanner volunteered the information. She continued instead, "It appears that there is some difficulty, however?"

Tanner laughed with a hint of good humor. "Oh, Mother! What an understate≠ment! Not just oneóthat would be too simple!" Her face became suddenly serious, and she added, "I think itís a matter of trust. I have a feeling she doesnít think I can weather a storm, let alone a hurricane, if one comes up."

Constance laughed softly and reached to stroke her daughter's arm. "Well, my dear, she simply doesnít know you well enough yet!"

"But how do you convince someone to trust you?" Tanner asked.

"I believe it develops slowly, as you face difficulties together and see them through. For some people itís more than just a matter of faith, especially if theyíve been disappointed in the past. Iím afraid it often comes down to a matter of time."

"Time!" Tanner responded angrily. "Must everything take so much time? I donít even know where to begin!"

"You might begin by letting her know that you arenít going to disappear, simply because everything isnít easy at the moment."

Tanner looked at her mother gratefully. She was right, and it was so simple! Adrienne expected her to disappear Ė to be dissuaded by Adrienne's resistance. And she had let Adrienne's fear keep her away.

Idiot! It's time to show Adrienne that I'm not giving up Ė and I'm not going away!

And so she had come, determined to prove herself, and her love. She looked up as she heard Adrienneís front door closing. "Hi," she said huskily, searching Adrienneís eyes for some hint of her feelings.

Adrienne stepped down off the stairs and kissed her, quickly but firmly, on the mouth. "Hi," she said as she turned and headed around to the passenger side of the car.

Tanner stood still for a second, slightly weak in the knees, and then vaulted for the door, grinning triumphantly.

~

They both waved to Josh Thomas as they stowed their gear and quickly set sail. This time Adrienne maneuvered them deftly out of the channel. Tanner moved effortlessly around the cockpit, adjusting the sails and luxuriating at being out on the sea againóand at being with Adrienne! She thought perhaps she loved Adrienne best here, on the sea, sharing the thrill and freedom of the sailboat flying over the water, the serenity of the secluded coves as their destination. When they were well under way and Adrienne had set a course for one of the infrequently visited islands, Tanner leaned back against the bulkhead and watched Adrienne at the wheel.

Adrienne enjoyed the attention. She felt unaccountably confident, when previously such scrutiny would have made her very uncomfortable. The spray off the bow blew onto her, drenching her cotton shirt. She wore no bra, and she knew that Tanner would notice the asymmetry of her chest beneath it. Amazingly, she wasn't worried. Tanner, after all, had seen it before. Instead she allowed herself to bask in the pleasure of Tannerís appraising glance.

Her body stirred as she imagined Tannerís hands upon her, and she glanced at Tanner sternly. "Stop it."

Tanner slouched a little more, her arms spread along the top of the rail, her legs parted insolently, her grin infuriatingly confident. "What?"

"You know what," Adrienne replied, trying desperately to hide a smile. "I'm navigating here!"

"Okay, okay! I was just looking!"

When they were well out from shore, Tanner began to peel off her clothes. Adrienne watched her fondly, envious of Tannerís complete lack of self-consciousness. Even before her surgery Adrienne had seldom been uninhibited physically. Certainly Alicia was a rather understated person sexually. In Tanner though, Adrienne found such sensuousness totally natural. Unfortunately, she couldn't continue to divide her attention between the wind, the waves, and Tanner's breasts.

"That's it," Adrienne announced. "I'm finding a place to drop anchor." While she brought them into the lee side of a small, uninhabited island, Tanner dozed in the sun.

Adrienne stood for a moment savoring the view. Tanner lounged on her back on one of the padded bench seats, her sleek muscular body covered with a light sheen of perspiration. Even her breasts were a light golden-bronze. With the boat secured, Adrienne stepped silently across the deck and knelt at Tannerís side. With one finger she traced the line of Tannerís cheek, over the chiseled arch and along her jaw, brushing lightly down her neck. She held her breath, marveling at the strong steady pulse that seemed so close to the surface. She slipped her hand under one of Tannerís breasts, squeezing lightly as her thumb circled the dark nipple. Tanner stirred in her sleep but did not awaken. Adrienne smiled to herself as she lowered her face against Tannerís breast, her mouth finding the nipple, drawing it in. She teased with her tongue until she felt it grow hard between her lips. She moved from one breast to the other, gently stroking the Tannerís belly, circling ever lower until her fingers reached the crisp moist triangle of hair nestled between Tannerís legs. Tannerís muscles twitched, her breath quickened, and Adrienne heard her gasp.

She's awake, and she's letting me have her. God, she's so beautiful.

She dipped with a feather-light touch into pools of moisture and out again. She pressed, she stroked, she teased until she could bear it no longer. She slipped her fingers smoothly inside Tannerís welcoming warmth, feeling herself instantly enclosed by the responsive tissues. Despite the eager response, Adrienne moved slowly, allowing the engorged tissues to relax and accept more and more of her. Once fully surrounded, Adrienne began to rock slowly in and out, timing her movements to the beat of the pulsing tissues around her hand. She was soon rewarded by a flood of moisture accompanied by a low groan from Tanner.

"Adrienne," Tanner gasped, "kiss me please."

Adrienne lifted her face reluctantly from Tannerís breasts, nearly lost in the wonder of Tanner's body. Tannerís eyes were glazed with need, and a high flush suffused her face and neck. Adrienne thought she had never seen a more stunning woman. Adrienne leaned over her suddenly and brought her lips down on Tannerís, her kiss as hard as her hands were gentle. She forced Tannerís lips apart with her tongue and plunged into her mouth with deep firm strokes. The force of Adrienneís hunger took Tanner by surprise and set off an explosion within her. She cried out as her body clamped down convulsively around Adrienneís hand, wresting her last shred of control from her. She screamed as the full force of the contractions struck, her hips nearly bucking off the bench. Exhausted by the wracking orgasm, she fell asleep cradled in Adrienne's arms.

~

Tanner opened her eyes to find herself alone on the deck. She smiled when she noted the towel that Adrienne had spread over her to shield her from the worst of the sun. She stretched contentedly, recalling the incredible pleasure that had put her to sleep. Adrienne's face flashed before her, and suddenly the only thing she wanted was to see her. She stuck her head down through the hatch but the cabin was deserted. She clamored up onto the bow to look around. She heard splashing and discovered Adrienne in the water.

"Hello there!" Tanner called.

Adrienne waved and smiled. "Itís wonderful. Come join me!"

Tanner dove gracefully off the bow and made a smooth arc through the water to surface near Adrienne. She flung her head back to clear the water from her face and reached for Adrienne.

"Hey, you! I missed you!" she exclaimed. She grasped Adrienneís waist and attempted to kiss her, succeeding only in pulling them both under water.

Adrienne coughed and sputtered water and finally laughed. "Idiot! Not in the water!"

"Why not?" Tanner said, pulling Adrienne against her. She slipped one leg between Adrienneís and the other around her, supporting her. She treaded water lightly to keep their heads above the surface. Adrienne fit neatly into the bend of her body. Tanner finally managed to kiss her.

Adrienne smiled, leaning her forehead against Tanner's. Her blond hair fanned out around Tanner's face, gently stroking her cheeks. "You make me want things I canít even put words to," she murmured.

"Words donít matter. I can feel it," Tanner answered. "Come up on deck with me. If I do what I want to do here, we'll both drown." She slipped her legs free and swam towards the boat, one hand clasped in Adrienneís.

Tanner spread a towel in the sun on the broad bow and pulled Adrienne down on it beside her. She kissed the salt from Adrienneís lips and moved languor≠ously down to her neck, alternately licking and kissing the remains of the sea from her skin. Adrienne arched her head and closed her eyes, content to give herself up to the pleasure Tanner was kindling with her tongue. Tanner did not hurry. She kissed Adrienneís chest, her belly button, her tender inner thighs. She lost herself for long moments breathing in the musky sea smell of her. She wanted to immerse herself in the essence of Adrienneís being. At last she rested her cheek in the crook of Adrienneís thigh and satisfied her urge to taste her. Tanner followed the dictates of Adrienneís body effortlessly, without thought -- speeding up, slowing, now harder, now softer Ė guided by the ebb and flow of blood and breath and muscle.

Adrienne swelled and throbbed and opened to her, as everything became swirling, pounding sensation. Adrienneís thigh muscles tensed, and Tanner wrapped her arms around Adrienneís hips to keep her precious hold during the earthquake she knew was coming. She was not disappointed as Adrienneís legs tightened, her hips lifted and she cried Tanner's name.

Tanner continued to lick her until Adrienne quieted under her now gentle strokes and then crawled up beside her, gathering her into her arms. She pulled Adrienneís head onto her shoulder and sighed. "Are you all right?" she asked.

Adrienne snuggled close and curled her hand in Tannerís hair. "You are marvelous. And I know you could tell," she whispered when she found her breath.

Tanner kissed her forehead lightly and murmured, "I love you."

Adrienne sighed. "I donít suppose thereís any use in trying to talk some sense into you, is there?"

"None at all," Tanner responded.

Continue to part 7

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